I have never been a big fan of Ramen but there are times when you are eager to see what is the fuss about all about. Among the many ramen restaurants that have opened up in the past one year, I picked Hokkaido Ramen Santouka at Pavilion first because I feel it is the one that really kick-started the trend for ramen in KL. Besides, Santouka is also one of the larger ramen chains in the world.
I went straight for the best in the menu – a bowl of Tokusen Toroniku Shoyu Ramen @ RM36 (regular portion). It is Santouka’s signature ramen in which the toppings are served separately. The Chashu is a cut from some of the rarest part of a pig – the cheek. From what I read in the menu, only 200-300g of cheek meat could be taken from each pig so that makes it quite valuable.
Although Japanese Chashu sounds similar to the Chinese Char Siew, the preparation is totally different. Instead of being roasted, cha-shu is rolled into a small log shape then slowly braised to a soft, tender texture that is said to resemble tuna. The taste is a simple mix of sweet and salty flavors, nothing really mindblowing but the melt-in-your-mouth texture even with so little fat, it is quite something.
SL’s Shio (Salt) Ramen @ RM25 with the Japanese pickled plum being the special topping here. Since the soup is basically just seasoned with salt, it is also the dominant flavor. Even for people who prefer strong tasting food like us, we still find the soup to be quite salty.
Good thing is that the soup is simmered only with the basic ingredients like pork bones, dried fish, kelp and vegetables, so you could actually control the amount of salt/soya sauce that goes into each bowl of ramen. I was told by the manager that many people actually prefer the standard taste, but I think we will still stick to less salt in future.
Besides ramen, Santouka is also famous for their Chicken Karaage (Japanese Fried Chicken) They are juicy and delicious (albeit a little oily) alright but I can’t help but compare them to those you could get from mamak stalls, they taste really similar! Well, maybe except for the mayo part.
And here’s an interesting video on how to appreciate ramen which I find rather amusing. The next ramen restaurant I will visit is probably Menya Musashi at Isetan 1-Utama and you bet I am going to eat like how the old man did!
Hokkaido Ramen Santouka
Lot 6.24.03, Level 6,
168 Jalan Bukit Bintang,
55100 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: 03-2143 8878